Cirrhosis : Hi all, my brother... - British Liver Trust

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Cirrhosis

Melissa87 profile image

Hi all, my brother undoubtedly has cirrhosis of his liver. He was hospitalised 2 years ago and spent a long time in icu. He made a recovery but hasn’t stopped drinking. He’s recently had blood test and they’ve come back as worrying -alarming. He was due to attend an appointment last week but said it was cancelled, now I’m finding out that the hospital was likely to have him admitted because of the concerning blood test. His appointment is for tomorrow and I’m worried about what’s going to happen. What would be so raised in his blood to cause concern? Is it the protein levels? I’m sorry I don’t know any medical terminology but he keeps me in the dark. Just tells me everything is ok! When I can see it’s not. He’s starting to look jaundice and his belly is swollen. If anyone can explain what the hospital are looking at and their concerns I’d be greatful. Thank you

7 Replies

Hi Melissa87,

I'm so sorry you are going through this - I was in a similar position this summer and I know how stressful it is. My husband has had liver problems for years but was keeping me in the dark and kept drinking... and kept telling me 'everything is ok' despite turning yellow and his belly swelling. Until he had alarming blood test results and was admitted to hospital for emergency alcohol detox as his liver had failed. The difficult part was for him to accept he needed help as he was in denial about the situation. In the beginning he was not cooperating and wanted to self discharge from hospital. He was in hospital for two weeks, currently taking lots of medication but the most important thing - stopped drinking alcohol. He is also following a very strict diet and his bloods are slowly improving!

You can find useful information about liver blood tests here:

britishlivertrust.org.uk/in...

Take care! x

Melissa87 profile image
Melissa87 in reply to BetulaT

Thank you for your reply, like most addicts my brother too is in denial about his health. He was very close to death 2 years ago but some how pulled through. Me and my siblings live in South Wales and my brother in question lives in London. So as you can imagine we have no choice but to go on his word. He came to stay with us a week ago that’s when we realised things were going bad again. While here he drank 4/5 pint cans of dark fruits every day I get that it’s not vodka or anything spirt wise but he shouldn’t be drinking at all. The hospital tomorrow will probably strongly advise he stays in but they can’t force him can they. If he’s not going to get the help they’re offering in really worried he’s not going to get a 3rd chance x

If he's jaundiced it's likely that his bilirubin is rising and if his belly is swollen it could be fluid build up (ascites) and in all likeliehood his blood albumin level will be low. Both are potential signs that he could be in a state of decompensated cirrhosis again.

Alcohol is alcohol and he shouldn't be drinking any - cider is as bad as spirits when taken in any quantity.

Sadly the hospital can't force him to stay in, they can only strongly advice it. If he doesn't go in and get the necessary help a.s.a.p. and continues to drink this isn't going to end well & sadly you may need to prepare yourself for that eventuality. He needs to get to grips with this now before it really is too late.

Katie

Hello Melissa,

I am so sorry to hear about your poor brother. Sadly his battle with alcohol abuse has been a long hard journey. This, unfortunately, does have an impact upon others as this addiction affects not only your brother but also all those who know, and love him.

Understanding the alcohol mindset does help to see the bigger picture. Many people turn to alcohol for many reasons. These could be out of habit, a lack of confidence in their abilities, to blank out a traumatic episode in their lives, and also as a form of escapism. There are many reasons.

Those people who go on to develop end-stage Alcohol-related Liver Disease (ArLD), can be put into two categories. Firstly many people develop a drinking problem. While others become addicted. The difference between the two is that the person with the drinking problem still drinks because they want to. While the addicted person is drinking because they have to. The addiction is driving their need for alcohol. About 68% of those who develop a serious liver condition are not addicted. They drink because they choose to. This leaves just 32% of people who have an addiction problem.

The first question I would be asking, is does your brother want to live? This may seem a strange question but during a drinking episode, a person will often push people and love ones away. They will shut themselves off and escape inside an invisible bubble. Here they feel safe. But this escapism comes at a price. Alcohol, as you may know, is a depressant and this can make a person fall into a dark world filled with emptiness and guilt. By pushing those loved ones away, they are left alone and lost. They can feel hopeless and disconnected from life and reality. For many, death can seem almost welcoming.

So, while a person can still have that willingness to want to live, then there’s always a chance. In your brother's case, it does seem that his alcohol abuse is now an addiction. He is drinking because he has to, not because he wants to.

If he still wants to live, then a controlled alcohol detox could be the next option. Until the addiction has been addressed, then sadly his drinking and physical health will continue to suffer. That willingness to want to live has to be so strong, that it drives and wins the fight. This can seem to be such an almost impossible task as the addiction is so strong. But that thought process of “I can do this, I want to do this”. Can be achieved and maintained.

Many people just can’t visualise a life without alcohol. This can seem an impossible ask, but it can, and must be done. For those with a drinking problem, alcohol can become a person's best friend. It is always there when they need it. It helps make them feel better. It has always been there. So letting go of your best friend may seem an impossible task, and many people just can’t let go of this imaginary friend.

I don’t wish to sound cold, but this does boil down to a simple choice. Life or death. There is help and support out there. But he has to want to live and fight this. Only he can do this because he wants to. Another problem is, that a person can suffer from mental health issues and no longer think clearly. Their judgement may become impaired and their thought processes can become challenged, so this needs to be watched out for.

I would go and see your brother, sit down in a pub and have a heart to heart talk. I say this as he is still drinking anyway, and he’ll feel more relaxed in familiar settings. He’s going to drink anyway, so here you can spell it out in a calm, relaxed manner. Let him know that he is much loved and that you and the family are there to help him. He has to decide to either take and accept this help or be ready to walk away. You can’ only help those who want to be helped.

I wish I could sound more positive at this point, but the long-term prognosis isn’t looking very good at the moment. He has some hard decisions to make, and only he can do this.

Please feel free to send me a private message if you prefer. I shall always help if I can. It does help to speak with others and many on here have been just where your brother is now. They understand the alcohol mindset and, like me have been there and come out the other end. Don't give up.

Good luck to all.

Richard.

Trust1 profile image
Trust1Administrator

Hi Melissa,

Are you in the UK? if so, our nurse helpline is open 10am to 3pm Mon to Fri on 0800 652 7330 and we can have a chat....

Thank you all for your comments very much appreciated! I agree the prognosis isn’t looking good and think he’s blocking something from his childhood. Same dad different mum, my dad was from England so my brother was born there and is 9 years older than me (I’m 34). Ive tried to get him to open up to me but he just shuts me down.

When he was in hospital 2 years ago he was put in a coma like state so his body could cope with everything that it had to. We was told numerous times to expect the worse, but like I said he pulled through. We’ve spoken to him about the experience and he can’t remember much but said he felt like his life was over- “something was stopping me leaving “ his words. I’ve tried to get him to realise that it wasn’t his time to pass and he had a purpose to live for. He agreed and seemed optimistic and wanting to share his experience with other struggling alcoholics.

That was 4 months ago! We accepted that he still drinks (rather he drank at home than behind our backs) although he wasn’t strapped to the house. On seeing him 10 days ago he seems withdrawn and much more quiet in himself, he drinks at least 12 units of alcohol a day and that’s a minimum. I don’t think he’s enjoying the drink but he needs to drink.

I’m waiting to hear from him today on how his appointment went but he hasn’t replied to my messages from last night. I’m hoping he’s not in such a way that there’s no point attending.

My heads full of all thoughts. Just waiting.

Thanks all. I’ll keep you informed x

He’s been in touch with his step dad and said the appointment went ok, he’s got to go back in 2 weeks 🤯🤷🏻‍♀️

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